A little over a week since a photo of Kim Jong Un standing next to a young "mystery woman" made headlines worldwide, Pyongyang has remained mum on the identity of the North Korean leader's companion.
The woman, photographed standing front-and-center next to Kim Jong Un at a band's performance in Pyongyang, has drawn speculation from all sides: Is she his sister? His girlfriend?
Kim Jong Un, center right, claps with his supposed companion as they watch a performance. (AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service)
South Korean intelligence surmises that the woman in question is North Korean music star Hyon Song Wol, once part of the group Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble. Although the band's sound doesn't quite fit in today's electronic music genre, the group is responsible for such classics as "I Love Pyongyang" and "Excellent Horse-like Lady."
If the woman pictured is indeed Hyon Song Wol, this isn't a new fling. Time sums up the lovebirds' ongoing and allegedly tumultuous relationship:
Rumors of the affair have reportedly been circulating for some time. Kim Jong Un is believed to have begun a romance with the singer a decade ago, but was forced to end the relationship by his father. She is then said to have married a North Korean army officer and given birth to his child. Nothing is known of the current whereabouts of Hyon’s husband and child, or whether she even remains married.
Romance drama aside, the Associated Press has suggested that the woman's public appearance, along with hints of economic reform and the recent reshuffling of the country's military, indicate a possible change in policy direction for the North Korean government.
However, NBC News quotes a professor of international relations at Beijing's Renmin University who cautions against jumping to conclusions: “I see no substantial indication of opening up…Bringing some women along is very normal and doesn’t have much critical meaning,” Shi Yinhong said.
With the matter still unsettled, it's worth giving this North Korean sensation a listen; you could be looking at North Korea's new first lady. The video above, uploaded to YouTube on July 10, purports to be the music video for Hyon Song Wol's "killer" hit, "Excellent Horse-like Lady." The YouTube user notes that a better translation of the song title might be "A Girl In The Saddle Of A Steed," which clearly doesn't resonate as well with a Western audience.
You can catch more of the group's greatest tunes in the slideshow below: